This review contains spoilers.
You’ve got this strange effect on me…and I like it.
I’ve found myself humming this tune every Wednesday morning over the past 7 weeks, because as strange as Nine Perfect Strangers is, I like it. I’m a sucker for a good, weird show — one that you don’t fully understand and that leaves you feeling a little hazy after each watch, yet keeps you latched on with the promise of some big reveal at the end.
But with Nine Perfect Strangers, the token “big reveal” — the answer to who was threatening Masha, who had shot her and prompted her to create Tranquillum — came at the end of the penultimate episode, proving that was never really the point of the series’ 8-episode arc. (And thank God, because that tangential storyline seemed to come out of left field and offered almost nothing to the plot.)
Rather (and to my delight), the show’s conclusion left me satisfied, happy, tranquil, and willing to further explore the age-old question: does the end justify the means?
Grief, Healing, and Psychedelics
We (and the characters) found out early on that Tranquillum’s residents were being microdosed with psychedelics as part of their “wellness” program. Why anyone would stay after finding out they’d been involuntarily drugged with an illegal substance, I’ll never know, but it appears all the participants were at the end of their ropes in one way or another. They’ve tried what they could to heal on their own; sometimes, when nothing you’ve done is enough, you become willing to try anything.
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Masha, our wellness retreat facilitator, is also wounded in her own way, having lost her daughter in a tragic accident some time earlier. Can the wounded heal the wounded? Any ordinary therapist would never intertwine their own demons with those of their clients, but Masha is no ordinary therapist. She’s someone who’s also been at the end of her rope for quite some time. I think she was genuinely trying to help facilitate healing in these nine strangers, but it’s clear that along the way she hoped to find some healing of her own.
Happily Ever After…Yes, Really
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t expecting a happy ending for any of these characters. I expected death, more grief, more loss — maybe because I’m a reluctant fan of the morbid and twisted. But what I got was actually much more satisfying, and this is one of those rare weird shows that wraps everything up in a nice bow while managing to not feel fake.
Yes, the cops show up, and all the guests are questioned about their strange retreat. But, while I was expecting them to be furious about the sneaky hallucinogens and the near-death fire “prank” pulled by Masha, they all refused to incriminate her. Frances blamed herself for locking them all in the padded sensory deprivation room, and the other guests severely downplayed what had actually been going on during their stay.
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In the end, the means really were justified, and all our strangers left Tranquillum better off than when they arrived (though hopefully not addicted to psychedelics). Tony and Frances, whom we were all rooting for from the get go, appear together with Tony’s daughters and an adorable pup at Frances’s home. Lars and his partner snuggle their newborn with Lars’s feature piece on Tranquillum gracing the cover of The New Yorker on their side table. Jessica and Ben (who, tbh, I forgot were players here most of the time) end up running a presumably new-and-improved Tranquillum retreat.
Carmel is running her own support group which, though I’m hesitant to believe she actually healed that quickly, seems to be thriving; the Marconis are seen driving away, more unified than when they arrived after being able to say a final goodbye to their deceased son, Zach; and finally, our wellness director Masha is seen driving away with her daughter in Ben’s yellow Lamborghini. The camera cuts and Masha’s daughter is gone, leaving the audience to wonder if Masha has found healing or if she’s still holding onto the past — though her tranquil appearance lends itself to the latter.
Have you seen the finale of Nine Perfect Strangers yet? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below!
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